Sunday, April 12, 2015

the one where I play catch up

Well .... here we are .... so sorry it's been so long since the last post! Lots of fun things have been happening and we've been soaking it all in. So, in this post I'll do a quick recap of the highlights since the last posting and then I'll get back on track with posting regularly.


David's birthday was in November. We had a pretty relaxing day and went to one of our new favorite spots - definitely one of David's - Golden Road Brewery. It was perfect day for him and us. I have to put a little plug out there for one of my friends. I had a custom leather belt made for him for his present. A good friend of mine from Camp Kemo has started a business with some friends, based out of Raleigh making hand-made leather goods. To date, I believe this has been the best present I have ever gotten for David. I know this because he has pretty much worn it every day since he got it! So go check out my friend's company - Crown Co.
Displaying IMG_8334.JPG

The holidays are definitely high on the list of things to highlight since the last posting.

Thanksgiving: My parents were amazing parents and drove out all the remainder of our belongings from SC all the way to us in CA!!! Not only did they do that but they actually arrived in LA on Thanksgiving Day. It was great to see them and have them here for the holiday! They were able to go eat Thanksgiving dinner over at Tomas and Janine's house with lots of friends and fun. We were able to give them the pretty quick tour of the city and hit the high spots before they headed back east. We had a great time hosting them -- even if we were squished between lots of boxes and did a lot of unpacking while they were here. It was a great time!
Displaying photo.JPG

Christmas: We went home!!! It was so wonderful to be able to go home for the first time since moving out here. I hate we didn't get to see everyone we wanted to but it was great to see family and see the friends we did. It was a bit of a whirlwind but we loved every minute of it. Lots of family time and LOTS of good Southern food!!! We even got to celebrate Ruby Kate's first birthday with the family. It was so fun to see her  and how much she has changed in the six months since we had seen her last.
** way too many pictures to load ... check out facebook if you're interested**

New Year's was pretty low key for us. We flew out on New Year's Day so our NYE was spent with our good friends Matt and Meagan grilling out and simply enjoying time with "framily". It was perfect ...even if we didn't stay up to see the ball drop. ;)

2015 has been off to a great start. We are settling in more and more each day and weekend as we continue to decorate and organize all the things we have .... of course, like most people who move - we still have some boxes to go through and unpack. In the last couple of weeks though things have really started to come together and we are loving it!

January when we got back from Christmas we were able to go out on our friends Manny and Angie's boat. It was amazing and beyond my wildest expectations! The day was simply beautiful and like almost any opportunity to be out on the water, we were completely relaxed and simply enjoyed the amazing views. We had dolphins follow us and play in our wake. We saw sea lions enjoying the sun and relaxing on buoys and boat decks. The views of the west coast from the water are some of the most phenomenal views out there. The ever changing and evolving coast line is spectacular.

February was my birthday and we went out with some friends to a stand-up comedy show (complete with a celeb comedian) and had a blast! We sat second row dead center and laughed all night! It was also the night before the Oscars so we were hoping to spot some good celebs since we were in the heart of Hollywood, but no such luck. They were hiding well in the places we can't afford! hahaha The night was a great way to kick off my 31st year though; celebs or not.

March started bringing the amazing west coast/LA weather and we started to explore some more. We had a few birthday parties to go to and one was at an indoor racing facility .... so much fun!! David and I were neck and neck in our times and placing. I was actually ahead of him until the last lap when someone bumped me and I spun out and he was able to get around me. Oh well. Still it was a blast!
In March we also discovered a new beach, thanks to one of the nurses I work with for telling us about it, and fell in love. It's still not an east coast/southern beach but it's much less crowded than the others out here, much more chill, and just a great place to get away and escape some of the big city. We will definitely be back to visit again. I did learn something on this beach trip and that is that SoCal beaches have naturally seeping tar on them. I had no idea until I stepped in it and got freaked out by trying to figure out what was attached to me! After some googling I figured it out and learned it was a normal and natural occurrence and I now know how to get it off safely and effectively!

We were excited to get to meet up with some South Carolina friends who happened to be in town for vacation. We were able to catch up with them one night while they were here. It's so funny to think about the things that are "normal" in southern vernacular that we simply miss out here until we hear it again. So, thanks to Vandy and Andra for bringing a little bit of home to us out here on the west coast!

April has continued to be a good month. We were "adopted" for Easter by a friend I work with her and family. They had us over for Easter dinner and we had a blast being with a family and simply enjoying time together. They loved the "southern style sweet tea" and "Grandmother's mac and cheese" we brought; we loved being adopted and included in some holiday celebrations. This was the first major holiday I had spent on the west coast without any family or friends from back home so it was such a relief to be brought into a friends home and immediately feel like a part of a family. We are looking forward to hopefully spending more time and holidays with them!

Next up in April, I went to see Newsies, the musical, with our friend Erin and her friend. It was a phenomenal show! Strangely enough during the 3rd or so song of the show the set actually broke and they cleared the stage and paused the show. The set engineer was able to fix the set and they resumed the show "no big deal." It was definitely something I had never experienced in all the shows and musicals I have been to. After the show we caught up with the boys and simply had a great night out in Hollywood. We had a blast that night but it was slightly bittersweet as it as "good bye" of sorts for our friend Erin. Erin has been offered a great opportunity and has moved back home to Philly. Here's my little "cheesy" shout out ... She definitely helped make the transition to Cali life a little easier and has been a great support system for both of us throughout the years. Wishing her the best of luck back home in Philly ... can't wait to come visit!!

The next big thing on our agenda will be celebrating our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!! So hard to believe it's already been a year! I know everyone says times flies, but it is no joke. It truly does and we couldn't be happier being together and living life out on the west coast and experiencing all the amazing new things together. After the anniversary the next big thing on the calendar will be hosting our first East Coast friends out here in our crazy LaLa Land! The Cauthens (Matt and Meagan) are headed out in May and we couldn't be more excited!

Until next time friends .... and I promise to get back on the boat of being more consistent! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

... and the fun continues

Well, it's been a little while, but here is the next update on what's happening in our crazy west coast Baker life!

First things first, I forgot to mention/share a couple of things in the last posting. One being this sweet and adorable picture of Meg and her new friend Brando. Brando is Erin's sweet doggie - so Meg and Brando finally got to meet and have a spend the night party while Erin and I had our spend the night party. :)

Also, I forgot to mention how when we hike the world grows a little bit smaller. On one of the last hikes we did at Runyon we ran into two different people/couples who were from South Carolina! One was from the Aiken area and the other actually went to USC and now lives in Chicago. David always like to wear some piece of USC apparel when we hike and it serves as a great common ground when we pass people who see us and say "Go COCKS!" or "Hey, South Carolina!" usually accompanied by an air fist pump or wave or a wonderfully southern smile!

Now, on to the newest and latest things we have been up to lately.
I have officially completed a full week without any orientations or new-hire meetings at my job. It feels good to be back in the swing of normalcy with a job and not just a job but one that I love. I love Child Life and what I do. It is especially nice working at CHLA where Child Life is integral and everyone there knows what Child Life does and sees our importance in the plan of care of patients being served there. I know that I have big shoes to fill on the units that I cover, but I can also tell that the girl before me did some major work and advocated for Child Life in such a wonderful way that I get smiles from nurses and medical staff as I introduce myself as the new Child Life Specialist for the unit. The Child Life team here is a team of abut 30 people and I am still learning names and positions but everyone has been welcoming, friendly, and wonderful. They enjoy hearing stories of my life back home, hearing my accent, learning the southern things I'm used to (i.e. koozies and croakies). It's fun for them and me, in that there are things like the croakies that I never realized were truly a southern phenomena and they have never heard of them. Some people on the team are from SoCal, the Bay area, Colorado, Connecticut, all over, but I am the only "truly southern" person making this all the more fun.
The Heart Institute where I work is an incredible place filled with such a different population than I am used to working with back home. There is quite the learning curve learning all these new cardiac terms, diagnoses, procedures, etc. I have learned so much in just the few short weeks that I have been there and can't wait to learn more! I have now seen and worked with patients who have artificial hearts (LVADs/Berlins) working for them as they wait on a transplant list for a heart, patients post-heart surgery who have their chests still open and waiting for closure, patients who have received new hearts and are anxiously awaiting their time to go back outside and home (for some this has been months since their last time outside), and so many many more things. I am loving all of it and working with these patients and families to make the best out of this scary and trying time in their lives.
The CHLA blocks on the corner of our campus- facing the main road, Sunset Blvd. This was on my first day at work! 

This is the admitting area of the main hospital. 

My desk. No, there is not a computer but has been ordered and shipped out ... just waiting! But this sweet Welcome sign was waiting on me on my first day there. 

These are pictures of the playroom on my floor. It's such a fun place for families and patients to get away from the "hospital world" and just be a kid and/or a family for a little bit. 

We have continued to explore this fun city that we are living in. One of the coolest spots we have found so far is Golden Road Brewery over in the Burbank area. In looking for something low-key to do the other weekend we decided to go here for lunch. We really enjoyed the set up. This is a local brewery that has added a pub to it's location. The outside seating area is amazing and something that makes us feel a little like being home. There is seating on the old loading dock, large picnic tables with umbrellas on the ground level all set up on astroturf. Part of it is covered and there is a kid play area with giant Jenga, foosball, a soccer area, and a doggie area. We were able to take a brewery tour for free while there as well. It was a lot of fun to see how it all works and really cool to see the local business from the inside. We will definitely be back to Golden Road.

It's football season and of course we are missing cheering on our Gamecocks at home but we are doing our part out here on the west coast! Football season is definitely a little different out here since most people are bigger NFL fans that college football fans. We have found ways to watch the games and be a part of the South Carolina family! For the first game we were both working, but found out David could watch it at work -- so I went straight there after I got off, obviously. Being that the UGA game is one of the biggest and our most favorite to watch, we ventured out to a place called The Parlor, in Hollywood to watch the game. There happened to be one other Gamecock fan there who is from Aiken and went to USC. So the 3 of us watched the game together and cheered those Cocks on to victory from afar. We are getting a little creative in our ways of streaming the games in order to be able to keep up with the home team. So, no matter what, we are still loud and proud Gamecocks! 

Our hikes have continued and this past weekend we went back to our usual Fryman Canyon. However, at the end of the trail, we discovered another trail. We had seen some people branch off before after leaving the canyon trails and walking through the neighborhood, so we this weekend we decided to be adventurous and see where the other trail led. It was really incredible. We truly went on instinct and followed the smaller paths we could see. It was gorgeous, quiet, and definitely much less crowded. We went through an area that was called "Rainforest" -- well we all know there is not much rain out here so we were curious about where we were headed. It turned out that there was actual foliage, green leaves, fallen trees, and even a few creeks with actual running water going through them. It was such a beautiful sight and we truly just stood and soaked it all in for a few minutes. Once we got through all of that we continued down the trail until we got to what we thought was the end - but there was a fence and we couldn't get out. So, we turned around and decided to head back the way we came when we came up on a nice couple who showed us another trail which we followed out. It again provided some really cool views. All total this hike ended up being 6 miles. It was incredible! 
Embarking on a new trail ... 

A gorgeous house atop the Hollywood Hills

The new found trail. 

David overlooking the edge to see where we are and which way to go on this new found trail. 

At the top left of this picture you can barely see but there is a giant house/mansion sitting atop some of the Hollywood Hills. Pretty amazing views. 

If you look closely (hard to see in this pic) you will see an old rusted car. Zoomed-In view is below. 

Old rusted car. This car went over the edge of Mulholland Drive and they left the car because of how dangerous it was to retrieve it. 
Dead Man's Curve info ... google Dead Man's Curve Mulholland Drive for lots more articles if you're interested. 

The creek/Rainforest! 

There was even a bridge! There were actually a few of them. 

Notice there is actual greenery behind us ... I was so excited .. like a little girl. 

Until next time friends!! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Adventures

Hello out there friends!

Since the last posting we have continued to go out, explore, and enjoy our new life together on the west coast. We have still been enjoying our hikes each weekend and getting better at them as well! I remembered to snap some pictures of Fryman Canyon since I didn't have any on the last posting. I even hiked Fryman this past weekend on my own. It was my first solo hike ever, felt pretty good. I know that I have mentioned the amazing views that you get from these hikes, but in solo hiking the other day I discovered another appreciation of them that I had never really paid attention too before. On these outings you get some quiet, calm, and serenity. The noises, sirens, people moving, buses, and everyday constant hustling and bustling of this major city simply fades away and disappears. You simply escape and only hear your thoughts, breaths (sometimes they feel and sound labored .. haha), and your footsteps. So, these hikes have become more than just something to do. They are great exercise for the body and a respite and rejuvenating center for your mind and soul. You can see why we enjoy them so much and actually don't hate that we set alarms to get up on the weekends and go hike before it gets too hot (hey, we can always nap later).
Me solo hiking in Fryman Canyon. 
This view from Runyon was particularly amazing. We haven't had a very clear day when hiking (yes, there is actually a lot of smog here and a marine layer that is heavy in the mornings) but on this day it was pretty clear. If you look at the background of this picture, the hazy bluish-gray color that looks like clouds in the distance is actually the Pacific Ocean. We could see all the way from downtown LA to the coast. It was quite amazing and breathtaking. 

Runyon Canyon view

 Coming down one of the steep trails of Runyon

Then, of course, you have to go back up! 



Some of the intense stairs on the hike at Runyon. I very much have a love/hate relationship with these things! 

This is maybe about halfway up the stairs. Obviously, I was trailing behind at this point. As much as I love/hate these stairs they are luckily only on one side of this hike. The rest is dirt trails you see in the other pictures. 

Had to throw this picture in to show that this little southern girl can back her truck into the tightest of places. Made my dad proud. It was a bit tricky but I did it and hit nothing! (what you can't see in the metal poles and gates in front of me .. where David is standing taking this picture.) We waited out this spot because the parking patrol was on a tear this day ticketing and towing cars that were parked on the road. Eek! 

We also spent some time poolside hanging out with some friends the other weekend. It was great to just relax and not really have a worry but to keep cool and chill. This is where the infamous video of us doing our ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took place -- thanks Tonya Baker! ;) 

On the weekends, David has also been keeping true to his southern roots, making sweet tea ... in mason jars! How else?! I know this makes many of you proud, as it does me, but I wish I could fully appreciate and  enjoy some with him. However, I am that strange southerner who does not enjoy the southern staple, sweet tea. I know, insert audible gasp from every southern reader out there! Sorry y'all, there are plenty of other things I promise I hold true to out here. 
Hope Jan and Mary Plyler are proud of their boy and his skills in the kitchen! 

On the work front, David and I both have had some big developments. 
David first! He was offered, and accepted, an awesome opportunity to travel with John Legend's tour team for 5 days. He went on the road with the crew and live-recorded the shows that John Legend played in San Diego, Las Vegas, and Denver/Red Rocks. In preparation for the trip we had to run to a few of the bigger studios around LA and Santa Monica to pick up some gear for him and Jason, his coworker for the shows. These studios were amazing, even to me who really understands nothing about all those knobs, sliders, switches, control boards, etc. So, for those of you reading this that know music and understand the business you will truly appreciate these next few pictures. The experience was something new and exciting for David; he truly enjoyed it and definitely made some cool new memories. The night they were at Red Rocks was 50 year anniversary, to the day, of The Beatles' first performance at Red Rocks. So naturally, John Legend played a tribute song in their honor, "Sometimes." 
I've never been to any of the places he went and the Red Rocks has always been somewhere I wanted to go. After going, his first time there as well, David came back and said we absolutely need to go back ... added to the bucket list! 

Ocean Way Studio (located in Hollywood) 

Ocean Way Studio

Jason and David, at Apogee, learning the gear they would be using for next few days on the road. 

The trip:
 John Legend at Red Rocks
David at the top of Red Rocks

David's credentials/pass

Red Rocks crowd ... SOLD OUT!!

Panoramic view from the top of Red Rocks

Panoramic view from the stage at Red Rocks

Denver, CO

driving into Red Rocks

The Chelsea Theatre in Las Vegas - preshow

John Legend in Vegas

Vegas marquee

San Diego coastline from the airplane

Downtown San Diego

Their recording rig.

San Diego State University 

My job front news. I finally have a start date ... tomorrow!! Which, by the time most of you east coasters see this will be the same day. I am starting at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, CHLA, on Thursday August 28 -- which just happens to be CAROLINA GAMEDAY!!! I will be supporting my Gamecocks from the west coast as best I can. And Cari Chandler, if you're reading this, that includes me using my Gamecock tervis tumbler! I am very excited and a little nervous. I am ready and looking forward to starting this new chapter. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital will always be my home and truly made me into the person and Child Life Specialist that I am. So, starting this adventure without that family around is going to be something strange and incredible. It will be strange to be doing something I've been doing for seven and a half years without the amazing team that molded me. I know I'll find my new niche and will make new friends and be molded into ways I never thought possible. I keep seeing all the pictures on Facebook of everyone sending their kids off to school for their first day of a new year, or a new school, or first day ever at school; and I feel like I should have David take a picture of me holding a sign saying "First Day at CHLA" with my book bag on and my new clothes. Yes, I even got to go "back to work" shopping. The child life team out here does not wear scrubs like back home so I got to go splurge, just a little. That, too, feels a little funny. To not be wearing scrub pants and to have to buy "real" pants almost feels like I'm back in my student teaching days when that's all I ever wore (wish I could still fit in those pants ... oh just a little dream). Needless to say, tomorrow is a big day - I start building my new work family and my Gamecock family back home starts on their next (winning) chapter!  

In honor of finally landing a job out here my friend Erin and I went out to celebrate with a low-key girls night. Erin moved back out to LA a couple of weeks before me and started her job about a week ago. While David was gone we decided to have a night and just celebrate our success and future successes. It was a much needed and much appreciated night together. 

As for now, we will continue to march on with settling in, turning this apartment into a home, and doing our best with the new jobs and projects ahead of us! Until next time friends ...